Visions of a City for All Resources, Choices and Factors Supporting and Impeding Universal Design in the Urban Development Process
Despite laws, policies, and visions to create cities and societies for all, barriers still exclude persons with disabilities from using buildings and public places. Our study aimed to identify choices made during the urban development process, which include or exclude users in the built environment; how and when these arise during the process; and what is needed to implement Universal Design (UD) as a strategy and tool to secure all users equal opportunities in the built environment.
The study involved employees and private actors in city development processes. The participants were asked to identify impediments and support of UD in completed building projects to shed light on choices made during the process and on conditions needed to implement UD along the process. Four workshops were followed by qualitative interviews with key players. The analysis was based on qualitative data from workshops and interviews.
Aspects impeding and supporting UD and conflicting visions and goals were identified in all phases, and the need for tools to implement UD. Findings show that accessibility for all users is dealt with (too) late in the process, often causing special solutions. Urban trends like densification and high exploitation can cause exclusion of some users, and an unbalanced view on sustainable development prioritising ecological aspects put high demands on users’ abilities. Findings also show how UD appeared more clearly in remodelling projects than in the new constructions. A strong vision from the start to build for all users clearly supported UD throughout the process. Other factors such as pre-studies which include human diversity, allocation of resources and experts’ early opinions also showed to be clear drivers for UD.
Overall, the findings show a demand for solutions to maintain early visions and goals throughout the processes. We conclude by providing seven recommendations for addressing these challenges.
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